The subject was job security, and Iowa Coach Hayden Fry had some definite feelings.
Fry has been a head coach on the collegiate level for 29 years at three schools, the past 13 at Iowa, and has been fired once, at Southern Methodist. His firing came after a 7-4 season.
"I had guys on the staff like Bum Phillips, we were within a half-game of the championship in the Southwest Conference and we got fired," Fry recalled. "I never got a reason, never got my contract paid and I had two years left. You just move on from there.
"I figured if Methodists can do this, anybody can do it. And up to that point I'd been a pretty good Methodist. Like Bum says--if they got the power to hire ya, they got the power to fire ya."
In a profession that seems to appeal to wandering souls, Fry has been noted for staying put and keeping his staffs intact. He said that's by design.
"Most of my coaches have been with me a real long time," he said. "I'll be frank, I'm a tough guy to work for. If a guy can better himself, get a head coaching job, I'm all for him and I'll do everything I can to help. If they're talking to someone and it's a parallel move, I tell 'em, 'That's a message, you better get (the job) 'cause you're gone.' "
While in Los Angeles for the 1986 Rose Bowl, Fry's name came up for the USC opening, a situation that caused him some aggravation. "I never put in for a job in my life," he said. "When USC approached me I presented it to my staff. We told the athletic director that after the bowl we'd talk about it. Meantime, something leaked out. We were all pretty well alienated (from Iowa fans). Then when we did look into it and found out USC coaches were driving an hour or two to get to work and sleeping in their offices we said, 'We got a pretty good job in Iowa.'
"Every time (his name) comes up we get hundreds of letters congratulating us on staying in Iowa. And I thought we'd made it pretty clear we're there to stay a while."
Fry on the similarity between him and BYU Coach LaVell Edwards: "We both pray a lot on the sidelines."
Edwards on what he admires about Fry: "He's may age and he's got a full head of hair."
It was a formality, but Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Joe Kearney announced Friday the WAC had signed a new contract with the Holiday Bowl binding its champion to the San Diego bowl through 1995.
Kearney said the contract was about to be signed a few months ago when bowl officials brought in the Big Ten, causing the delay. "The nuance of the Big Ten . . . stopped the process and I had to go back around (to the conference schools). But our arrangement is the same and there was no negativism. It was just a new direction to look at," he said.
BYU quarterback Ty Detmer broke 64 NCAA records in his career, but Houston's David Klingler surpassed a handful of them after BYU's season had ended. So Detmer's official entries in the record book are 59 set and three tied. . . . At Friday's kickoff luncheon in the San Diego Convention Center, attended by both teams, boosters and school bands, University of Iowa President Hunter Rawlings said, "It's interesting being in a place where there's more people at the dinner than there are in the whole state of Iowa." . . . BYU President Rex Lee, at one time an attorney for the Justice Department, said lawyers "are probably history's most persecuted minority, and it's a shame our profession is sullied by three- or four hundred thousand bad apples." . . . At the luncheon, highlight films of each team were shown. Iowa's was narrated by NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw, an Iowa alumnus. . . . San Diego High School senior Noelle Van Camp was awarded the Garland Scholarship, given annually in conjunction with the Holiday Bowl. She has a 4.2 grade-point average and letters in tennis and track.